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Martha Gladys Bonilla Goodyear

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An El Salvador lady with the beauty of a gladiolus flower is what I saw when I spoke with Martha Gladys Bonilla Goodyear.  It is kind of ironic, or really God ordained, that Martha's name means a lady, a princess, as beautiful as a gladiolus flower.  Martha was born in the capital city of San Salvador.


Martha was born on her mother's birthday, September 1, and is the oldest of eight children.  This El Salvador 'flower' lived in San Salvador for the first 38 years of her life.  She enjoyed the climate and the big city life.  However, just because she lived in the city does not mean it was a palace.  In fact, all ten members of her family lived in a very small, one-room home divided by curtains.

One curtain was used for her three brothers' and the other for her and her four sisters' bedrooms.  The rest of the room was divided off as a bathroom, a little stove that could hold two pots and their table.  The family would periodically have to sprinkle water on the dirt floor to keep the dust down.  But Martha said it was 'happy and full of love'.

The landscapes of San Salvador has lush vegetation and is full of beautiful seasonal flowers ... like Martha 'Gladys' Bonilla Goodyear!


El Salvador is called the land of volcanoes.  It has over 170 volcanoes in its small nation.

Martha said that she and her siblings had endeavored to walk up the long winding path leading to the top of her hometown volcano.  Martha was around 19 years old at the time, but she could only make it halfway up to the top of the volcano.  So all of them had to turn around and go home.  No long after that, her siblings decided to give it another try ... but without her, Martha chuckled.  Her siblings did reach the top of the volcano.  Martha's siblings told Martha that the viewpoint that can be observed from the top of the volcano was breathtaking.  Then Martha told me some unbelievable, mind-blowing information!

Martha informed me that people can actually go down inside the volcano!  Not only can they go down inside this volcano, but they can also camp in it if they would like.  And then she said this ... she said that there are also coffee shops, restaurants, vendors, and all kind of recreation down INSIDE THE VOLCANO.  She said there are stairs that actually lead down into the volcano itself giving access to all the activities going on inside this volcano.  Totally amazing and true!

At the age of 38, Martha and her friend decided to come to America.  Martha's father's sister, her aunt, lived in the United States.  Martha had never met her.  Her father only had one sister.  So Martha left her beautiful home in San Salvador and went to Queens, New York.  Martha phoned her aunt who was now living in Idaho.  Her aunt invited Martha to come to Idaho to live with her.  So Martha ventured out to travel from New York to Idaho.


It was a scary three day trip for Martha. She could not speak English.  "Very, very little of it," she said.  The bus did not stop.  It kept going all night long.  Martha had to sleep three nights on the bus.  She was afraid of who may sit beside her on the bus or of getting lost when they made their short stops.  God watched over her.

Martha made it safely to Idaho and stayed with her aunt, who was also originally from El Salvador.  Martha's aunt and uncle took Martha into their loving care and taught her to speak and read English within two years.  They took many pictures which included pictures of Martha.  Wait until you hear what these pictures led up to!  We will come back to these pictures in a moment  ...

Meanwhile, after two years, Martha moved on to California to stay with a lady to babysit for her as a job ... a nanny.  She stayed with this woman for two years.  In the meantime, one of Martha's other sisters had moved to Florida and was expecting a baby.  So Martha flew to Florida to be with her sister.  Martha helped take care of her new little nephew for two years.

Now we come back to those pictures!  While Martha was in Florida, a handsome young man saw Martha's pictures that were taken with her aunt.  He so badly wanted to meet Martha that finally Martha agreed and went back to Idaho.  This man was so sweet and kind to Martha that she didn't hesitate when he asked her to marry her.  Within two weeks, Martha was married.  Harold was very caring to Martha then.


Martha and Harold had only been married for two years when they decided to move to Ohio.  They rented an apartment for a year.  Martha's husband promised her that it would only be temporary and he searched for a home to buy.  Soon he found this lovely place with five acreas of land and a little pond with ducks.  .


Harold built a large bird feeder so Martha could enjoy the beautifully colored birds right outside her window.  Or maybe to help her not to get so homesick for El Salvador.

However, it did not feel this way at first for Martha.  She missed the city.  She missed being able to walk to the stores.  She missed friends to talk to.  These five acres seemed to her as a jungle.  a place of seclusion and where she was lost.  But not, 28 years later, it is peaceful and beautiful to her.  She does not want to ever leave.  It has become a little taste of God's peace to her.

I asked Martha when did she become saved, when did she ask Christ into her heart.  She told me that Harold said he was saved when he was 16 or 17 years old.  "He took me to a catholic church and we said we were Catholics," Martha recalled.  Then one day, Justine Elza, a new lady friend invited Martha over to her home.  She took Martha aside and told her about salvation.  She showed Martha scriptures in the Bible, then asked Martha what she thought.  Martha said she was a little leary.  Justine shared more of the Bible and explained it to Martha.  Martha said, "Yes, I want to be saved".  Martha said that was the day she accepted Christ as her Saviour, right there in Justine Elza's living room.  That was in November of 1997.

"As a previous Catholic, it was hard for me," stated Martha.  "It was hard to give up the Catholic ways, but little by little God removed them from my life," she smiled.  "Nothing can change me now!" exclaims Martha, "I'm the Lord's child!"  The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if any man (or woman) be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Martha started attending and growing spiritually in the Church of Troy in Garrettsville, Ohio.


When they arrived at their English speaking church, there 'just happened' to be a missionary for Mexico there!  Mr. Dunbar was his name,, Martha recalled.  He was visiting the church.  Martha said Mr. Dunbar is American but he speaks Spanish.  


Martha continues, "So my husband talked to Mr. Dunbar and told him that they were trying to explain salvation to her mother, but she does not know any English."  So Mr. Dunbar took Martha's mom to the altar and explained salvation to her in Spanish.  Martha's mom accepted the Lord as her Saviour!  Not only were the angels rejoicing (Luke 15:10,  "Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.") but Martha was ecstatic!  She is so happy that her mom was saved! 

Martha continues to pray for the rest of her family to be saved.  Martha says her family members are Catholics, not Christians.  She says they pray to Mary.  Martha wants them to pray to Jesus and ask Him into their hearts.  She prays they will leave their Catholic traditions for Salvation (Mark 7:9).

Martha stays in prayer for her family whom she loves dearly.  Martha is just like her name shows ... a beautiful gladiolus flower ... inside and out!

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